It never ceases to amaze us how some cars stay in one area, or even the same city, for their entire lives, while others move around the country at seemingly alarming rates. It can certainly make chasing down some old rods and customs an adventure. And let's not even get into how well-known cars can simply disappear from the scene entirely only to surface decades later!
This 1959 Brookwood was originally built some years ago in Michigan by Russ Peterson, who invested two years of his time into the wagon. Somehow it moved cross-country to Northern California, where Joe Schenk heard from a friend while attending the Goodguys show at Pleasanton that a two-door 1959 wagon was for sale. "I had to go see it; after all, he said it was a two-door!" Joe told us. A 45-minute drive later and, "It was in good shape but I could tell it needed to be totally gone through mechanically. I don't think there was any getting out of the purchase as my 10-year-old daughter fell in love with the color immediately.
"So the purchase was made, and we were off back to the hotel. Now came the fun part, driving home to Las Vegas from Pleasanton in a 50-year-old car that definitely needed some mechanical attention! Not to mention it was 110 degrees driving through the desert in August! Anyway, my daughter, son, and I made it all the way home. And the car? Well, let's just say its tongue was hanging out! The cam started to go flat about 50 miles from home and the trans was so hot the floor felt like it was going to melt!"
Joe spent another year going through the car, replacing the motor with a big-block, switching out the overheating trans for a 700-R4, adding AccuAir suspension with RideTech 'bags and Hotchkis antiroll bars (the latter being fitted after some "interesting" cornering characteristics at 60 mph coming home from a show one day) and new rear trailing arms, as well as fitting Astro Supremes and Coker Classic whitewalls. He also had Pinto's Paintworks in Las Vegas handle the bodywork, which has shaved handles and filled hood openings, before applying the PPG Glade Green. Most importantly for Joe, the Impala trim package was added. He then moved inside and installed a Custom Autosound/Kicker/Alpine stereo combination, and re-upholstered the car using stock materials, adding an ididit column and a 14-inch version of the stock steering wheel.
We often ask owners what they consider to be the hardest or most challenging part of their project, and Joe replied without a doubt that it had been sourcing the parts he needed, as wagon parts are "next to impossible to find". He obviously found them, and now gets to enjoy the fruit of his labor, driving the wagon to both local and out-of-state shows, even making the 10-hour trip back to Pleasanton, this time without the issues of that first trip!
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Las Vegas, Nevada
1959 Chevrolet Brookwood
The stock X-frame and control arms were retained, but with all-new Poly Plus and rubber bushings (as well as body-to-frame bushings). Sway bars were added front and rear, with Fatman Fabrications 2-inch dropped spindles and Bilstein shocks. An AccuAir e-Level system was added, using RideTech 'bags. Chevy 11-inch brakes are fitted up front, with a GM master cylinder and 9-inch booster. The 605 steering box was retained. New trailing arms locate the stock rearend, which retains its drum brakes but with upgraded components.
A 1975 454 was punched out to 468 ci by Jack and Sons in Las Vegas, while Kenny Hodges handled assembly, using a COMP cam, HEI ignition, and an Edelbrock 750 carburetor on the stock four-barrel intake. Chevy aluminum valve covers and a Mooneyes air cleaner, coupled with a chrome water pump, alternator, brackets, and A/C compressor dress things up, while the stock exhaust manifolds were ceramic coated and feed a 2 1/2-inch system with MagnaFlow mufflers. A Be Cool aluminum radiator ensures the Schenk family make it home in the high desert temperatures. A new, stock 700-R4 trans was treated to a shift kit before being bolted to the big-block.
Wheels & Tires
Out back are 15x8.5 Astro Supremes wearing 235/75R15 Coker Classic whitewall rubber, with matching 15x7s and 215/75R15s up front, providing the slightly deeper dish look at the rear.
Body & Paint
Shaved handles, filled openings in the front of the hood, removing the rear window crank mechanism, and installing hidden front turn signals are the extent of the body mods, though the rear seat roll-down windows have been replaced with one-piece fixed glass, HID headlights replace the stockers, and Impala side trim has been added. The stock grille has been polished. Pinto's Paintworks in Las Vegas sprayed the PPG Glade Green.
A smaller-diameter steering wheel in the style of the original and an ididit tilt column connect to the stock steering box, while currently Dakota Digital gauges fill the stock dash. Vintage Air keeps Las Vegas summer days bearable, cool air exiting through 1964 Pontiac vents. Joe tackled the seat and door panel upholstery using stock green material, adding a stock green carpet kit. The AccuAir system resides in the spare wheelwell under the rear cargo floor, while the color-matched Pleasure Chest ice chest, also back there, houses the subwoofer.